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First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards, 1815
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First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards, 1815

Measurements: Height 46cm (18in)

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Bronze. A reduced scale model of the figure of a Guardsman flanking the Wellington Memorial opposite Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner, London. Raised on an integral bronze base inscribed Grenadier / 1st Guards / 1815’ to the front and to the signed to the other side by the art founder and sculptor ‘Elkington & Co. / J.E. BOEHM scr.’

Sir Edgar Boehm’s Wellington Memorial Statue was executed in 1888 to replace Mathew Wyatt’s colossal 1846 equestrian statue of Wellington. Wyatt’s statue stood on top of Decimus Burton’s triumphal arch which was originally located opposite Apsley House. In 1882 a road widening scheme meant the relocation of Burton’s arch to a new position at the top of Constitution Hill, and the removal of Wyatt’s 40-ton statute to Aldershot.

The present Guardsman wears the uniform of 1815 with the new addition of the bearskin cap. Following the defeat of Napoleon’s Old Guard Grenadiers at the hands of Maitland’s Guards Brigade at Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the Prince Regent issued an order awarding the 1st Foot Guards the distinction of adopting the bearskin cap as worn by Old Guard in place of the British Army’s regulation pattern shako. For Boehm the task of accuracy was all important in executing the four figures at the base of the Wellington statue. It was, as Boehm told a reporter from the Pall Mall Gazette, ‘not a small matter to get everything about their uniforms quite correct’.

Sir Edgar Boehm, Bt., R.A. (1834-1890) was born in Vienna, the son of the Director of the Austrian Imperial Mint. He came to London 1848 and studied for 3 years, mainly in British Museum; then studied in Italy, Paris, and Vienna, where he won the First Imperial Prize in 1856. In 1862 he settled permanently in London and later the same year first exhibited at Royal Academy. He took British nationality in 1865, and was appointed an A.R.A. in 1878 and an R.A. in 1882. He was a Lecturer on sculpture at Royal Academy and received the membership of several foreign academies.

Boehm enjoyed a constant flow of commissions for public monuments, portrait statues and busts and became Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1881. His notable works include Lord Napier of Magdala in Queen’s Gate, Kensington; the Prince Imperial (killed in the Zulu War of 1879-80) in St George’s Chapel, Windsor; Gordon of Khartoum in St Paul’s Cathedral; Thomas Carlyle on Chelsea Embankment; the free standing figures of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales on Temple Bar Memorial, Fleet Street; and the portrait head of Queen Victoria for the 1887 coinage.

Boehm’s royal connections extended beyond his professional abilities as a sculptor. He was rumoured to be the lover of Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's artistic daughter. Moreover it was reported that Princess Louise ‘discovered’ Sir Edgar’s body in his studio off Fulham Road.
 

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